Wednesday, April 17, 2013

40 oz and bikes don't mix

So this happened last night on my way home from the Jewel where I was picking up some vegetables to steam for dinner. I was walking normally carrying my goods and listening to LA Guns I think, when a dude cruised by me on his bike drinking a 40 ouncer. He was actually twisting the top back on and when he did, he let it go thinking the plastic Jewel bag it was traveling in was still connected to the handle bar. Well it wasn’t so when he let go it slammed on to the concrete and he just kept right on going. It didn’t break, but it made a loud knock which caught my attention. The dude started to make a quick circle so he could come back around and pick up his deliciously boozey friend. He must have watched a war movie or two and known that you never leave a man behind! While he was looping around the full size truck that was driving the same direction drove right over his 40 and it made a huge POP-crunching sound… A split second later there was a full on thermo-nuclear chain reaction underway by the crestfallen biker. He flew into a whirlwind of F-bombs and open palm/arm raising. The truck just kept right on driving like it was Sunday afternoon at the park. About 20 yards back a girl in a blue Honda was approaching and had really no idea what happened I assume. As she neared the crime scene where this guys 40 ouncer met its untimely death he was now about 2 feet from the spot in the middle of the street screaming at this girl “Yo bitch ass gunna fukin roll over my shit too den? White bitches rolling over my shit den right?” I think she was just driving along, probably listening to ‘Ain’t No Hollar Back Girl’ or whatever girls in blue Hondas listen to and just saw this guy foaming at the mouth ready to assault her Honda and possibly her if he was strong enough to punch thru the windshield. So she hit the gas and sped thru the scene. He must have thought she was going to run him over because the Earth and sky nearly split open with his anger after that. No traffic was able to cross from that moment on the street now contained a dead 40 ouncer crime scene, a downed bike and a crazy dude losing his mind. As I walked on I noticed an older guy on his stoop laughing historically. I couldn’t help but pop my ear bud out and ask him what was so funny. He said “Da guy, hes’ cervezas get squished”. I laughed at this guy’s pleasure with the other guys misfortune, That poor girl is probably telling the same story to her co-workers right now about how she was nearly murdered for driving down Blackhawk. There is no moral here other than people are funny and 40 ouncers are tough to handle on a bike.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The cold hand of death...

After we collectively popped the circuit yesterday by running all of our personal heaters at our cubes, and thusly angering the Building Overlords of Doom. Resistance was put up in the form of ignoring their thunderous decrees outlawing all use of any personal electrical life-support systems... Battles ensued; many lives were lost as entire floors fell victim to deep freeze. Corpses sat suspended in mid fax or clutched together around a flickering screen smiling over hilarious cat video on the YouTubes, waiting for the icy hand of death to overtake their forsaken souls… Some poor sap in Accounts Receivable stapled himself to the heat-duct in a vain attempt to absorb the meager warmth allotted to the office peasantry. But in the end, the working class was victorious. They lit their office chairs ablaze and danced a snakey and rather uncomfortable looking jig of defiance… There was to be capitulation… Order would be restored… Today is the first day since 1000 moons pass that I haven't obtained frostbite from merely sitting at my desk working. I gaze out the window now with thoughts of those fallen, and the days of yore when spring was at hand and girls on the street didn’t look like Glow-worms.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A sad day of gun violence...

Being for or against gun control is irrelevant, the genie is out of the bottle and will never go back in. The people that spout out about how a forcibly unarmed society could happen again and point to Nazi Germany as an example are ill-informed often stupid historical cherry-pickers at best, or scared reactionary sheep - which is somewhat more forgivable - but more than likely they have an agenda. Praying to your God about it or to fix it is also irrelevant because there is no God. Once you realize this is a manmade phenomenon you can then begin to dissect the issue and learn from it. Greed and inequality create tension and infighting between the massive amounts of Have-Nots. The Have’s nurture, supply, and support this chaos because it helps them stay in power both financially (as the financiers of the hardware, be it guns, prisons, or otherwise) and socially (as the “Leaders” we look to to fix it thru legislation or spirituality). When so many scramble for what we perceive as so little we turn on each other and blame each other for our short comings. Guns are ubiquitous in our society not because some 200 year old slave owning rich guys said we should have them in case we have to lob some lead balls at the military if our leaders try and tax us too much, we are swimming in them because it makes a lot of money for a lot of powerful people and it speaks to our primal instincts. For 99.9% of the Homo Sapiens existence aggression, greed, and selfishness was a necessity. The powerful realize this and use it to their advantage. We needed aggression, greed and selfishness to live for the rest of the harsh day we woke up in to. Only since civilization began around 4000 years ago or so did those things begin to become non-important. Evolution takes many 100s of thousands of years to work, how do we pluck the very things out of our psyche that allowed us to rise to dominance in the first place? Violence and gun-culture are a part of who we are because that is who the Homo Sapien is. I’m more apt to say that civilization is an evolutionary dead end than anything else. We don’t commit violence because we play 1st person shooter video games, we play 1st person shooter video games because we want to commit violence and still go to sleep in our nice warm beds at night. People will ask for answers for why these things happen and the answer is simple. Humans are violent selfish beings. Our greatest goal should be to circumvent our instincts, to trick our nature into trusting that altruism is more important than dominance, that caring for one another returns dividends much more healthy than owning all the properties on the Boardwalk. Look to man to fix man, Start with education, start with deductive reasoning… not some bearded guy cloud surfing, or some rich guy giving you Band-Aids after he sold you grenades. The enemy is within all of us. We can overcome, we have to or we won’t be around to cry about it much longer.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Uncle Frank

I dreamt of my uncle Frank last night…

My uncle died a little over a year ago. He was my dad’s best friend and one of my closest relatives growing up. At the funeral my dad’s younger brother, (my uncle Xavier) and I were chatting and he said: “Your dad and Frank-O almost made you a killer didn’t they?” I laughed and nodded “almost indeed”… 
I have no memory of my uncle Frank being a wild party animal but the stories my aunts and uncles tell about him in the late 60’s and early 70’s are tails of debauchery and rowdiness that remind me a lot of my friends and I. My earliest memories of Frank are of a very short man with his faded jeans rolled up exposing the zipper on his combat boots and a white single chest pocket T-shirt. Sort of James Dean now that I think about it, and never without a bottle of Coke in his hand, he drank 4 or 5 Cokes a day, that was his replacement for booze by that time. And he smoked like it was his job. Camel Non-Filters and a stubby soft pack was always tucked in the chest pocket of his white T-Shirt.  He wore a mesh-back camouflage hat with the top folded into a military style concave, which gave it a slightly more formal look, and it sat every so fragile on the very top of his balding head, leaving room for his small grey pony tail to emerge out the back just below the size adjusting clasps. Pictures of me exist from this time period where I’m also wearing what we now call a Trucker Hat that my uncle gifted me in his image and I look awkward as hell in them. The hats huge rim jutting out from my forehead like a platypus beak and the back claps set to the smallest it would go with the last possible union of knob and hole clinging together to hold my curly black hair from spilling out in all directions like so many worms escaping their tin can prison before they become fish bait.

He drove a huge brown and yellow late model station wagon, the kind that had an ash tray and electric cigarette lighter in every arm rest. 15 people could independently light and cultivate the cherry of their cigarette in that rolling tobacco fortress. My spot was the direct center of the backseat where I sat unbelted on the unfurled folding arm rest which I referred to as “The Bump”. That spot gave me an extra 3 inches to see out the windows more clearly. This may be a surprise to people but I've always been a shorty, even when i was 8. My uncle’s car was littered with empty Coke bottles, McDonald’s wrappers and smashed Camel packs. The ‘way-back’ as I called it, was a tangle of fishing poles, pool sticks, sharp and dangerous looking tools, and boxes of rifle shells for the various guns that lay hidden in their soft cases depending on the season. I remember thinking that messy pop and junk food and cigarette cars where what lifelong unmarried guys like my uncle do all day without question and I couldn’t wait to become one. Sometimes I’d climb into the front and sit directly facing the giant center console.  Everyone’s fingers were larger in the 1970’s when this car was made so all the buttons and knobs where huge. The ash tray was crammed to standing room only with hundreds of cigarette butts poking out. Some of them had lipstick stains on them. He smoked the Non-filters and they were alluring to me because they looked like the joints I’d seen my neighborhood friend Dan’s older brother smoke in his room when we were in there listening to Black Sabbath. I wasn’t really sure what either would be like but I knew I wanted to try them as soon as I could. The radio was an old fashioned AM/FM stereo high-fi where you’d push a rectangular button that was the width of a stick of gum like a cashier slams her cash drawer shut at a gas station after giving your change. The satisfying “Ka-chunk” would send the tiny orange bar inside the horizontal dial on an analog jump from 1480 to 960 and ZZ Top would fade in with a crackle that no one born after the year 2000 will ever understand non-ironically.  

No one called my Uncle Frank ‘Frank’. He was known as Franky or Frank-O or Chapparro, which is Spanish for “Shorty”. My dad called him The American though which always made me laugh. My dad has ridiculous names for every person I’ve ever known that he has met. His naming convention defies definition but it hovers somewhere around the British penchant for rhyming off-kilter words mixed with a touch of 60’s pop culture. Frank became Frank-O which became Frank-O-American (the American food company that manufactured Spaghetti-O’s before Campbell’s bought them out) to just American or The American. My dad would simply say: “The Americans coming over tomorrow, we’re getting up at 5 to get those squirrelies boy…” 

Frank bought me my first bike. I lead-heavy Schwinn with mud guards, and reflectors, and number plates, and training wheels, and maybe even sissy tassels sprouting out of the hand grips I can’t remember. It was really nice but horribly uncool compared to the feather-lite Mongoose dirt bikes with red or blue tires the other kids had. Mine was basically a starter bike that had made a deal with gravity without consulting me rendering it impossible to pop wheelies or attain any air off makeshift ramps of plywood and cinder block; there-by furthering my uncoolness. But more importantly Frank bought me my first shot gun. A Winchester 20 gauge 5-shot pump action. I was too little to even shoot it for at least a year if I remember correctly. I think my mom might have used that fact to try and get me to eat more vegetables which I viewed as my mortal enemies at that time. But what I lacked in 2-wheeled bravado I more than made up for in firepower and all the neighborhood kids enjoyed gawking and rubber necking my arsenal of firearms.

I spent a great deal of my early years in the woods with my dad and my uncle shooting various woodland creatures. My dad and uncle were both amazingly good marksmen and they taught me how to shoot with great accuracy. That accuracy came in handy with the neighborhood kids when we contested our sniper abilities. Today the only creatures that bear the wrath of that training are an occasional Chicago alley-rat as I’ve giving up hunting for sport. My uncle and dad said that if I hadn’t discovered girls at about the age of 14 I’d have surely turned into a woodsmen like them. Or a ‘killer’ like my uncle Xavier put it. I think they're right.

The last time I saw him, I walked into the hospital bedroom in front of my dad and he looked over at me, his body frail and weak. I’d guess him to be about 95 pounds or less at that time, but his huge hazel eyes were bright and alive as ever. He said: “Hey there Jay-Bird, what da ya say?” I spoke quieter than normal, I think most people do in hospitals: “Oh you know… hanging in there, how are you?” he replied instantly with a stern: “I’m ready to get the fuck outta here, dying sucks”.   

It was nice visiting those memories last night. Nice to see my uncle again in the health we all want to be remembered in.

It was good seeing you again Uncle Frank…

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Beer Otter - The Internet being number 1

The only thing that sucks about this photo is that Bud Light is gross, which leads me to believe that the genius behind the creation of this photo may not be as amazing as I want him/her to be.

Everything else here screams: This is how I want to live my life.

Now some of you might be thinking: “Jay, as long as I’ve known you all I have ever seen you drink is cheap/shitty watered down domestic beer, how is Bud Light any different than Coors Light or Miller Lite. What gives with the sudden and illogical snobbieness?”

Try and stay with me here… Our brains work and learn through association. At a very young age, maybe before you even remember, you touched something really hot and was like “damn, I won’t be doing that anymore”. Same can be said for countless other events; pulling on a dogs tail, poking a bee hive with a stick, stealing money from your moms purse for Star Wars action figures… you know life lesions like that. Somewhere along the line we form habits and rituals that define our personalities and all its inherent quirks.

First of all you have to consider I grew up in Michigan and we’re cheap beer swilling machines up there. The only real distinction I remember having to make was between super cheap shitty beer (Busch Light, Natural Light, Milwaukee’s Best, Ham’s), regular shitty beer (The above mentioned plus Michelob Light) and the slightly stronger (I use that term loosely) shitty beers (all the “Ice” beers, Corona, MGD and Rolling Rock). In college there were a few snobby beer drinking dudes at parties, I’m sure you know the type: Wearing a Sigma pullover drinking Fat Tire and telling you how amazing Phish is. Whatever though, this was just never on my radar, I just didn’t care, the jokes and the good times with friends was more the point. It was only when the close correlation between Bud Light and the “NASCAR fan” or “super drunk frat dude” - both of whom enjoy fighting more and more as the Bud Light flows freer and freer through them - started to come to light that I made the connection. This was only further reinforced living near Wriggly Field as I’ve done since 2005. I guess there is just something inside of me that says Bud Light = Someone that thinks I’m gay and wants to punch me for it… So alas, that little otter being completely cute and utterly amazing can be forgiven for having an owner/friend/photographer/zoologist that has not had the same life experience I’ve had… *sigh* I thought we’d all get along so well too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Doors at Work

The building I work in added like 6 new fob locked doors all throughout the floor I work on. Next to each door is a small metal in-table sized desk. Common assumption would be that a civilized person could use the desk to place their coffee or laptop down while they fumbled for their key-fob to open the door. Even though everyone knows I hate action movies I’ve seen enough of them for my brain to think that the real reason each door has a desk next to it is for me to have something to hurl thru the glass window that frames each locked door in an emergency type situation.

Using them to wedge the door shut after me in the event I’m being chased by a homicidal undead monster, 37 minionous thugs with uzis and walkie-talkies, or no less than 19 police officers will never work because of the glass window frame I just spoke of. That and the in-human strength homicidal undead monsters possess wouldn’t save me any time at all, and in fact would only allow the antagonists to catch up to me faster. That last part is more horror movie learning’s than action films but that’s neither here nor there.

I plan on just leaping from the high rise I work in onto/into the one across the street if anything crazy happens over here anyway. Matt Damon is probably a lot stronger than I am and slightly taller but that’s just more weight he has to launch across the gap between buildings, and I should be able to harness my “flying squirrel-like” frailness to glide most of the way between buildings. It’s windy as shit here in Chicago anyway.